The first month of the NBA season brought a lot of surprises. Here’s how to use them to your advantage when placing bets.
NBA fans and bettors knew that the 2014-15 season was going to be wet and wild. After an offseason that saw Lebron James return to Cleveland, Kevin Love join him, Derrick Rose return from injury and major prospects like Jabari Parker join the NBA ranks, what could slow down the excitement?
One month into the season a lot of what was expected has borne out. The Spurs and Warriors are good. The 76ers and Lakers are bad. Lebron James looks like the best player in the world, and Anthony Davis is the league’s brightest young star.
But beyond these observations, some of what has come to pass thus far hasn’t been so obvious. Whether you’re hitting the online sportsbook or betting when abroad in Mexico or the Bahamas, these less-obvious insights will help you bet prudently during the remainder of the NBA season.
The Bulls are the team to bet on
The Chicago Bulls currently sit at third in the Eastern Conference with an 11-6 record. That number is somewhat misleading, however, as Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah have each missed time during the first part of the season.
Bet365, a leading online sportsbook in the UK, is currently giving the Bulls 8/1 odds of winning the 2015 NBA championship, trailing the Cavaliers and Spurs, both with 4.5/1 odds. The Bulls should be considered the front-runner, and here’s why:
- Rose is still rounding back into form and is scratching the surface of his limitless physical ability. He’ll be in the MVP running when all is said and done.
- Pau Gasol looks five years younger, as demonstrated by his recent 25-point, 13-rebound game against the nets.
- Jimmy Butler is making the leap from role player to star in his third NBA season, averaging more than 20 points per game.
The Cavaliers need to adjust their roster
Lebron’s triumphant return led sportsbooks like Bet365, BetVictor and Bodog to anoint the Cavs as the front-runner in 2015 NBA finals futures odds (literally every sportsbook of consequence favored them), but it looks like they spoke too soon.
• The Bulls have 8/1 odds of winning the NBA Finals
• Jabari Parker is the current favorite to be Rookie of the Year
• The 76ers aren’t favored in any of their remaining games
The Cavs are slowly picking up steam and are certain to be near the top of the pecking order in the East, but their roster is rife with imbalances. They have no competent wing players save for Lebron, lack the footspeed necessary to play strong defense, and are reliant on Dion Waiters, an undisciplined chucker who can’t fathom the fact that he is expected to take a backseat to Lebron.
It’s clear that these Cavs need to dump Waiters and get some help on the wings, in particular some athletes who can play defense. Until they make the necessary roster adjustments, they aren’t going to compete with the Bulls, Spurs or Warriors in a playoff series.
The Grizzlies will fade, sort of
The Memphis Grizzlies currently sit atop the Western Conference with a 15-2 record, led by the prodigious play of Marc Gasol, the younger brother of Pau. While this Grizzlies team is for real, it isn’t going to be on top when the regular season ends.
The Griz rely too heavily on three players (Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley) and will be worn down in a playoff series against deeper teams like the Spurs, Warriors and Clippers. These guys are good, but not that good. That’s why Bet365 is giving them only 1/21 odds of winning the finals, even though they currently have the league’s best record.
The Philadelphia 76ers are not favored to win a single game
No NBA team has ever gone winless in an entire season, and one shouldn’t expect that any ever will. But the 2014-15 version of the 76ers looks ready to come closer than any team before it. The Sixers currently sit with a 0-16 record and an average point differential of -14.9.
To add insult to injury, online and mobile betting sites have reached a consensus that the 76ers shouldn’t be favored in any of their remaining games. The highest probability they’ve been given of winning is 44.6%, in a March 30th home game against the Lakers.
This team only has a few players (Nerlens Noel, Tony Wroten and Michael Carter-Williams) who have any business on an NBA roster, and pundits seem justified in calling the 76ers the “worst team in NBA history.” If you decide to bet on them it should be out of pity and not actual belief in their ability to win. They’ll steal a game eventually, but probably not the one you bet on.
Prediction Gaming Zion got wrong: Nerlens Noel for ROY
Prior to the season oddsmakers were giving Nerlens Noel 7.5/2 odds of winning the Rookie of the Year award, behind such players as Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins. This publication considered it to be a weak line, as Noel had all last year to practice against NBA competition and would be on a time reliant on his skills from day one.
It looks like Gaming Zion got overzealous, as Noel’s responsibilities haven’t translated into production. So who does look likes the front-runner to win the award? It’s a two-way race between Parker and Wiggins. While the latter has a bit more wow factor to his game, Parker has been more consistent in a gradually-increasing role. One would be advised to wager their money on him.